The plot has some loose ends that I hope are answered in the sequel. I didn't really understand the villain's desire for the magical box. At the library it was used as a holding box and Doc explains it is for keeping gold and spiritual treasure. I'm not sure if the villain wanted to rob people of spiritual parts and trap them in the box or if Doc had stored some part of himself in it and the villain wanted it for that reason. Grace's appearance isn't explained much either. Elizabeth's family is mentioned in the beginning but they don't come up again. I thought maybe the sisters would get involved or the doll collection of Elizabeth's mom's was actually tied in with the other doll collection. Some plot elements are misleading.
The character development has Elizabeth learning to accept herself. Like many teenage girls, Elizabeth wants to be beautiful and have many friends. The message is to like your character more than your looks but I didn't think it was strong enough. Elizabeth worries so much what others think that it undermines her standing up for herself. Jaya has more fire in her. She is mouthy and willing to be contrary; whereas Elizabeth wants to please. She is warm and kind. Not that there is anything wrong with that. I just thought her and Aaron becoming romantically involved reinforced the message that she needs a guy to feel like she's worth something as the new kid at school or with others. And I really didn't understand Aaron's actions with the shrink-ray gun. Was the key enchanted to make him betray his friends? There seemed to be some greed associated with it because both boys were "reluctant" to give it to Elizabeth.
The cranky magical mirror was my favorite character teasing Elizabeth and Aaron by revealing their hidden desires and showing that beauty mattered to her too much. Every time the two would ask a question, the mirror would say things such as "Bitsy Rew is brave and true/ A pity she's not pretty too." Later the mirror suggests that since Anjali is gone Elizabeth should go after Marc. Elizabeth's constant thoughts on how beautiful Anjali is warrants this comment. I think that if the author put more emphasis on inside beauty versus superficial beauty then the message would have been clearer about liking yourself. While entertaining, some of the character development and plot directions were not as clearcut as I think they were intended. You'll have to decide for yourself.